Are there different types of hearing aids?

Q: Are there different styles or types of hearing aids?

A: There are many styles of hearing aids, designed to provide patients ease of use, choice, and comfort.  When we talk about hearing aid styles, we break them up into 2 main style groups: “in-the -ear” and the “behind-the ear”.  From there we further break them down by size or by where the speaker sits.

In the in-the-ear category we have the invisible-in-canal (IIC), the in-the-canal (ITC), the mini canal (MC), the half shell (HS) and the full shell (FS).  The exact size of these hearing aids varies slightly depending on your ear canal size and shape as well as the size hearing aid desired.  These hearing aids require an impression (a 3D model or mold of your ear) to be sent to the hearing aid company and they then create the hearing aid to custom fit within of your ear canal.  For this reason, these hearing aids styles are also often referred to as Custom hearing aids.

In the behind-the-ear category we have the receiver-in-the-ear/receiver-in-canal (RITE/RIC); the open-fit behind-the-ear (open-fit BTE); the traditional/standard behind-the-ear (BTE); and the power behind-the-ear (power BTE), which comes in a further variety of power, super-power, or ultra-power depending upon your degree of hearing loss.  These hearing aids utilize either custom measured tubing and custom earmolds (which require an impression just like the in-the-ear style) or graduated size tubing and domes, which can be mix-and-matched to provide the proper fit.

There are many things to think about when choosing a hearing aid style.  One is ear canal size; If you have a tiny ear canal an in-the- ear style device will need to be larger to fit the required components.  Another is visibility of the device; Do you feel strongly about people seeing that you have hearing aids.  A third is ease of use of device; Do you have numbness or reduced movement in your fingers that might make small controls or batteries hard to manipulate.  

Additionally, it is important to think about the configuration of hearing loss; Do you need gain in the high and low frequencies or just in the high frequencies?  Also, use of oxygen and frequent changing of glasses; for some of the people who use these an in-the-ear style can feel less in the way than a behind-the-ear style does.  And a final thing to thing about is physical comfort; Do you feel like you would find a device that sits behind your ear more comfortable or less comfortable than a device that sits fully in your ear?

Yes, there are many different styles of hearing aids because there are many different types of patients who use them.  For more information, talk to an audiologist today.

Emily Steffel, AuD